The PJ Tatler

Rick Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign (Update: Romney, Gingrich React)

Former Senator Rick Santorum announced this afternoon that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, effectively ending his run. Santorum announced his decision in Gettysburg, PA. Santorum has consistently led in Pennsylvania, his home state, in polls leading up to the state’s April 24 primary, but recent polls have showed the race in the state tightening. A defeat there would have damaged Santorum well beyond this year’s presidential primary.

Rick Santorum has run as a conservative alternative to former MA Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads in the delegate count. Santorum’s exit from the race leaves just Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul in the race. His exit effectively ends the primary in Romney’s favor.

We will have more to say after Sen. Santorum has delivered his remarks, which are expected shortly.

Update: Santorum began his exit speech noting that he and his family spent Easter weekend tending to young Isabella, who fell ill and spent the weekend in the hospital. The Santorums’ three-year-old daughter suffers from Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition. She was discharged from the hospital Monday night. Santorum said that it was a family decision to enter the presidential race, and it was a family decision to suspend the campaign today.

The candidate thanked his many campaign workers and volunteers, noted the surprise prominence of the sweater vest in his campaign, and described the race as “miracle after miracle.” He said the campaign “gave voice to those who are in many cases voiceless.” He stressed that he ran a positive campaign based on turning the country around economically, as well as reflecting the hopes of Americans. “That’s what our campaign was about…what made us Americans,” Santorum said, quoting from Abraham Lincoln’s address delivered at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

“We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend in the same way…Today, we are effectively ending our campaign but we are not done fighting.” He declared that he will work to defeat President Obama in the fall, but he did not mention Mitt Romney by name.

And then there were three candidates, but only one with a clear path to capturing the GOP presidential nomination.

Update: Mitt Romney reacts:

Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation.  We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity.

Update: Newt Gingrich is staying in the race. He reacts:

New Bern, NC – Newt Gingrich released the following statement reacting to Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suspending his campaign:

“Rick has waged a remarkable campaign.  His success is a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles.

“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice.  I humbly ask Senator Santorum’s supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa.  We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.”

Update: When the story of the 2012 GOP nomination is written, it will say that Rick Santorum went farther than anyone thought he could, and came closer to capturing the nomination than anyone expected. He could never raise enough money to compete with Mitt Romney and never had the national organization that it takes to win a national race, state by state. But he did well with what he had. Had Iowa been called correctly — Santorum won, but it was called for Romney on the night of the caucuses — the race very well may have turned out differently. Santorum’s 2006 Senate defeat in Pennsylvania damaged his presidential candidacy, and Romney was set to bring that defeat up in a blistering ad ahead of the PA primary. Santorum had no effective counter to that ad, and was already dropping in state polls. All signs pointed toward a defeat in his home state on April 24. So it was time to get out of the race.

Update: The Tatler has opened a VeepStakes Poll. Weigh in on who you think Romney will select as his running mate.